[things to come]

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We’re getting ready to close on the house that we have lived in for the past two years, our first years as a married couple and as a family. There’s an eensy weensy little spot of me that is sort of sad to see it go. Most of me is relieved. I had these huge fears that we would be trapped there for the rest of our lives and I would feel cramped and tired and stuck. But we’re not even living there now. And it feels like I can breathe again.

We’re staying in the house that I owned before we got married. Sleeping in a room I’d never slept in before, remodeling rooms I’ve dreamed about but didn’t have the know-how to be able to do. Painting, cleaning, continually boxing items. Always finding out that we have TOO MUCH STUFF and our storage unit is TOO full. There have only been a handful of items we have *really* wished we had on hand, that were packed away. one of them we bought to replace while we wait to unpack all our items- a mini food processor, from an estate sale, in mint condition with all the accessories for $2. It was really hard to pass up. And I mean, we’ve definitely desired to have two of them a time or two before. So now we have two.

We’re trying to renovate and continue living our lives, but really, we’re tired. My husband especially. Because my Prince is a dreamboat and he works all day at his office and then comes home, puts on his boots and goes upstairs to build walls, tear out dividers, hang mirrors, paint things, put in trim and more. I ache from sitting at a desk all day, to a point that I don’t WANT to do physical things unless it’s as simple as walking. I clean the house and then I’m over-exerted. Depression and anxiety are running high right now and are never more than an arm’s length away, hello fall season- i see you.

We’re also only three weeks away from closing on our dream house. our farm. we’ve met the owners of the house and fell in love with them. the wife is so sweet. she cried when we met and reached out for a hug but realized we’d only known each other a few seconds and pulled back. I hope she comes back to visit in a few years. The thought of moving is dreadful. I can’t envision spending one more day messing with our belongings and moving them again. It feels so laborious. I just want to be settled in our home.

It feels like we are always busy. Always doing something, even on the nights that we have to veg out and watch a tv show and eat on the couch because we are so tired. Our emotions are tired, or mine are at least. I can’t deal with my overworked husband who spits out words like fire and doesn’t realize how crushing they can be. I can’t handle it. And I can’t handle the ins and outs of parenthood right now. I just can’t. I am at a point where I need a safe place and I need a cozy chair and blanket and a book or 10 to curl up with and recoup, but there is no time for it.

I’m looking forward to learning to garden and learning to be the canning queen of 2018.
I can’t wait for goats, chickens and some day cows, even though i don’t really want cows.
I can’t wait to build the photo studio of my dreams, right on my land.
I can’t wait to take walks in our back yard through our hills.
To wake up and see deer feeding from our trees.
To have our home.
To create our farm.
I can’t believe we’re really doing it!

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week on- week off, my life is a teeter totter

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Consistency, what does that word even mean? Constant. Never changing. Routine. Similar. Predictable. What I crave for every aspect of my life.

Now for someone who is very much a “Type A” personality, change is scary. And I don’t know how I ever thought that life as a step parent would fit into my clean, organized, well- scheduled life. Because it doesn’t. It so does not.

Our “Schedule” is typically 1 night per week and every other weekend. With some bonus days here and there, whenever my Prince invites the kids over or their mom can’t stand them anymore, which is often as of late.

I almost demand that Prince Charming tells me when they come over if it is an “off” day of ours. I cannot physically or mentally handle coming home to three people when I expected to come home to zero or 1 (if my prince is working.) And he hates it. He often thinks that I mean he needs my approval to have the kids over. While that would be real fun, since I do plan things on our nights off and sometimes really do need a day off from everyone, it is not the case.

I am just step mom. My needs come last, my sanity comes way last.
I have begged and pleaded for this summer to not come and alas, here it is. Week 1.
Where we get the boys for an entire week. They’ll go to their mom’s house for 14 sweet hours in the middle of the week, but still. My sanity is scared. My heart that still is aching since my step dad died. It’s terrifying to cry or have added stress. My sunburned skin is not looking forward to when 9 pulls me to go look at something or how the dogs get riled up while the kids are over and might jump & scratch my fresh burns. ouch.
I have told my Prince that if he were to pursue further custody of the children than what he/we have, I would support him. I would take the kids every day of their dang lives if that’s what he wanted and that’s what were best. But I am not prepared for week on, week off. At all.

I am not prepared for the arguments and my husband telling me that I’m fighting just like the thirteen year old.
I am not prepared to get walked on day in and day out every other week.
I am not prepared to be pushed aside for an entire week.
I am not prepared for the week long mental exhaustion and feeling like i am on the outskirts of my own home.
I am not prepared for the endless laundry that will accumulate or the swimsuits and towels that will hang forever on our porch rail.
I am not prepared for them to miss their mom and to hate every second of being with us. I cannot ever prepare for the “I miss mom” ‘s or the 25 minute phone calls to her, when we never get an “i miss you” phone call while they are away from us.

When my routines break, I turn into a monster. I can’t think straight, I can’t keep track of the days, I cannot handle it. I struggle when I come home to a full house instead of getting my 30 minutes of quiet, where I can pick up the pieces of the day before and get things back in order. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, sweep up the floors and tackle whatever large mess was left by my husband or skids. When I come home to a full house, I am already defeated. I cannot peel away from them to do housework or editing photos + videos from my side gig, I cannot find 5 minutes of quiet, I am exhausted.

Does it seem wrong to not want this week on/week off thing? Prince Charming keeps saying “We’re only adding three days/week and she gets them on our regular night!!”

Yes, but that’s three days of not seeing my husband.
Three days of doubt and worry and being shoved to the side.
Three days of arguments and fights over dinner or whether it’s actually 89 degrees out.
Three days of telling 13 that he cannot possibly have another pop and can’t have 4 bowls of ice cream, especially because he was a giant turd all day long.
Three days of not bike riding or walking because the kids are too lazy to go. (mainly 13)
Three days of sanity that I so badly need.

We’ve never done week on, week off.

I am honestly terrified for summer.

The big, green monster

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Proverbs 27:4New International Version (NIV)

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Jealousy is something I’ve never struggled with, until now. I’m not sure how to handle it- but Proverbs has said it perfectly. Who can stand before jealousy? Who can even try to compete. Who can win against it? No one. Your mind eats at you. Your thoughts are overcome by negativity- worst case scenarios. It creeps in and spews darkness in all of the wrong places. Lord, help me.

Married People Habits that Unmarried People Just Don’t Get

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This morning, I was sharing with my coworker that I got about 4 hours of sleep and I ruined my husband’s night of sleep, too. I have a terrible back due to a rear end collision a few years ago, plus a drunk driver a couple years later, so sleep isn’t really a comfortable thing for me. We have an extremely soft mattress and have been in agonizing pain sleeping on it since last October. We caved and got a mattress that was squishier than what we need and have paid for it every night since. Thankfully, my fantastic boss gave us a portion of last year’s profits and allowed Prince Charming and I to go mattress shopping last weekend and (hopefully) solve the bad mattress problem.

Anyway.
We ate a lot of junk food last night and I already had back and neck aches, so I knew sleep wasn’t going to come easy. To my surprise, I fell asleep before Charming put down his phone and was out for a few hours. Then 2:30am hits and all hell broke loose. I woke up, stretched, drank water, used the restroom, stretched, laid down. Rolled over. Rolled again. Laid on my back. Pulled the covers, kicked them off, rolled again. Sighed. Rolled. Slept for 3 minutes, woke up to back pains. Rolled, kicked, sighed, etc.

Prince Charming is usually a deep sleeper, I think I could perform surgery on him and he wouldn’t even know he was being touched. Except last night, he felt every twist and turn and heard every sigh, felt every movement. And I felt bad. He tried to snuggle me tightly, almost to keep me in place. But I can’t handle that. I get up again. He sighs and I apologize and get a “I just want to be sleeping!”

I share my silly nights sleep and the way I probably ruined my husband’s day with my coworker and she says, “you don’t have a couch he can just sleep on?” and I said well I do. But he has to sleep by me. We don’t do that.

And she scoffed.

And it made me flash back to a few times I’ve had conversations like this with other newlyweds or married couples.When we had only been married about 6 weeks, I had a church trip I was attending out of state- he couldn’t come. I shared my room with the Associate Pastor’s wife, so we could have a cheaper hotel rate. There were 5 people in our group, so guys shared one room and girls were in the other (2 rooms instead of potentially 4.) AP came to the room every morning and night and hugged her for what seemed like hours. He just missed her. He didn’t like being away from her. I teased them a little bit, but they said I mean, you get it? Prince Charming isn’t here.. you know what it’s like to be away from your spouse. It’s just different. And it was a breath of relief to hear another couple share that they felt the same way. I was feeling like a needy 16 year old girlfriend who hadn’t seen her boyfriend in 5 hours, I missed my husband so badly. And that’s how I think I’d feel if one of us just took to the couch.

Being away from my spouse is not something I will ever choose to do. Sleeping next to him is something that I waited 2 years to do. I value it. My favorite part of the day is when he leans over and hugs and kisses me before we go to sleep and when I wake up with his arm flopped on me somehow. He is there at the very beginning of my day and at the very end. I will never be the wife that sends her husband to the couch because he snores or is too floppy. I would rather endure the crappy night of sleep to be able to remain at his side, than have to sleep in another room away from him.

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My heart honestly breaks for couples who sleep separately. Who are okay with sleeping in other rooms or going to bed separately (there are times when it’s okay, just not all the time, right?). It seems like they miss out on something huge. Going to sleep next to my Prince is a recharge, when things are tough or times are heavy, he is there. If I can’t sleep, he is there. If I am fearful, he is there. If he wakes up panicked, I am there. If his back hurts, I am there to sleepily try to rub it for him. You get the picture. He is there when I need him and I am there when he needs me. And all the times in between.

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I just wonder what your thoughts are on this- am I overly attached to think that if my husband slept on the couch, I would miss him too much? Is it weird to think that my coworker’s scoff at me wanting to share my bed with my husband was almost… offensive?

Recipe Roundup: January

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Alright Step Monsters, I need your help:

For this edition of “Recipe Roundup” I am requesting your favorite slow-cooker meals!

Prince Charming has just requested that I become the family chef during this upcoming semester, as he has too many credits and not enough time.
I laughed, because cooking is a disaster when I’m in charge. He told me he’d even bake the chicken we’ll eat tonight if I’ll steam the veggies. if I what? huh? i don’t know how to do anything cooking related. So we’ll see how this goes.

My hope of crockpot meals is that I’ll be able to have everything ready when we come home and take less time away from the other household chores and of course, time away from the kiddos.

Please remember that I am lactose intolerant, so no milk products in the meals (unless it can be substituted by dairy free milk..).

You guys, I already have crippling anxiety over what to make all weekend and hump day isn’t even over yet. I might die of fear of the kitchen, so if you don’t hear from me- send my dear husband a sympathy card.

 

Thank you all for your help!

thestepmomma

surviving the holidays with kids that aren’t mine.

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It’s no secret that the holidays demand a lot of our time, even when we are singles without a spouse’s family to visit. The holidays have changed drastically for me in the last few years:

When we first started dating, the very first time we had spent any outside-of-church-time together was on Christmas Day. When I was single, I opened my home to anyone without a place to go. Or people who’s parties were over early. Or someone who wanted to help me be un-lonely. I didn’t cook (see Cranberry Relish in it’s Worst Form), I just offered board games and a friendly, well-heated space. Charming came. So did my gem of a friend and her husband (who have now become our closest friends, the parents to our God-daughter).

When Prince Charming and I were courting, the kids had already wiggled their way into my heart and I found myself wanting to spend the holidays with them. Knowing it wasn’t my place, knowing I had no leverage. But I desperately wanted to be around them. Lo-and-behold, Prince Charming to save the day with an invitation to the Charming Family Christmas! And I got to buy them things. I got to wrap their gifts and see their faces light up and have some excitement.

Our first Christmas as a married couple presented a lot of challenges: who’s traditions win? Who’s decorations go up? When do we even decorate? and the best one: WHO gets to put the topper on the tree?
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This year, my challenge is: keeping my sanity while their mom tries to take Christmas eve from us. I put in my specially requested date MONTHS ago, and it was granted to us. Now, as life goes, the threat of having it taken away is real. She is on her high horse right now and is not backing down. It’s a struggle to have uncertainty in planning. It’s a struggle to think that my kids won’t be with me for our family party (not even on Christmas day). My heart hurts thinking about it.

You get it. You as a regular, biological parent understand the pain that comes with dropping off your kids to someone else each week, even if it’s their other biological parent. What you don’t get, that us steps do, is that we invest the exact same amount of effort. We exude the same amount of energy (if not more) into these kids. We pour out our entire beings into these kids, as if they were our own. And then we send them off and we’re discarded.

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What you don’t get is spending hundreds of dollars on presents for your kids. Things that they have DREAMED over. Things that they will roll around on the floor in excitement for. Things that they actually want. What you don’t understand is how deeply the “thanks, DAD” hurts. (dad did not go shopping at 4am and wait outside in long lines for this special NERF gun. dad did not fight off other shoppers. dad did not wade through people in aisles, almost drowning, to pick out the right slippers for your kiddos.) What you don’t get is the crushing feeling of dropping them back off at their mom’s house, giant-long hugs and glowing faces for dad.. and barely a wave goodbye to thestepmomma.

I haven’t figured out how to survive the holidays yet. But I’m trying. We’re trying.

***disclaimer. no, hundreds of dollars won’t make the kids leap into my arms, i get that. i know material things are not the way to a kids heart. i know. but YOU know how much Christmas means and YOU know how much you hope that little gift will brighten your kids day, please don’t try to pin the materialistic label on me.***

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So. I imagine that there are other steps like me who have these struggles. Who fear the holidays. Who are developing anxiety in places it never existed before and might, almost, potentially may be crippled by it before Christmas even appears. How do you do it? How do you make it? How do you wave goodbye and send them off and hope that they remember that your name was signed on the gift tag, too? Or that you were helpful in painting their bedroom that was just redone for them or that you painstakingly wrapped each present, with each kid in mind?

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Gratitude.

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I am fighting right now. In ways that I can’t describe to you yet.
So to combat it, I am sharing my gratitude journal with you.
I read another blogger’s “Thankful List” tonight and it made my eyes light up in a way that they haven’t been able to in a few days.
I’m not sure how long to make this, please bare with me. I am digging deep tonight.

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I’m not one of those girls who is CRAZY about elephants, but i do love them. they are peaceful and gentle in my mind. Teal is my favorite color and succulents are my favorite types of flowers because they’re really hard to kill. I’ve had mine living for 5 months now and that has got to be a record for this not-so green thumbed lady. I am grateful that i have favorites. that they can be as small as the color teal and as giant as an elephant. I am grateful that i have my own choices and can decide things for myself. and that i can keep succulents on my desk at work.
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Recently, I’ve developed a deep love for sunflowers. I dont know how to describe it. A close family member of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and the first time I remember smiling after hearing his diagnosis, was after driving past a sunflower field. They warm my heart. They bring a little bit of sunshine into my day. They stand tall and reach for the heavens. They are beautiful. and i love the beauty behind the story of Seeds of Hope– the love this man had for his wife. check it out, sunflowers will mean something new to you, too.

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I am grateful for my prince charming, even when his crown isn’t the shiniest or he doesn’t wipe away my tears.. or even understand them. I am grateful that he will argue with me until he feels like he can’t speak anymore- because he’s trying to listen. I am grateful that he loves me deeper than anyone i’ve ever met. i’m grateful that we are new at this because i know there is so much more for us ahead, and he’s the only man i want to take on adventures with. i am so grateful that he lets me hang out with his little princes and lets me wash their clothes and sit with them on the couch. i am so grateful for this man and how he has changed my life.

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mostly i am grateful, even though i am terrible at showing it sometimes, for my Jesus. i am so grateful that he is faithful to me, when i neglect him. i am grateful that he isn’t a God off in the distance who has never felt pain- because He sees me. i am so grateful that he sees me. He is my comforter and strength. i am grateful for his love and how it is unending. Here i am, Lord.

 

 

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